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(Redirected from Spinning top)
This article is about the toy. For other uses of the term, see Top (disambiguation).
Missing image
A top with sides marked in Braille

A top, or spinning top, is a children's toy that can be spun on an axis, balancing on a point. The top is one of the oldest recognizable toys found on archaeological sites. Besides toys, tops have also historically been used for gambling and prophesy. Some role-playing gamers still use tops to augment dice in generating randomized results. A thumbtack may also be made to spin on the same principles.

The action of a top relies on the gyroscopic effect for its operation. Typically the top will at first wobble until the shape of the tip and its interaction with the surface force it upright. After spinning upright for an extended period, the angular momentum, and therefore the gyroscopic effect, will gradually lessen, leading to ever increasing precession, finally causing the top to topple in a frequently violent last thrash.

The top is sometimes used to make a logical point. It is possible to say "the top is moving" without contradicting the statement that "the top is standing still." The two statements can each be true in that each refers to a different kind of motion -- "the top is rotating around its axis, but the axis remains at the same spot," would be a more complete statement of both points. In general, the law of non-contradiction must be stated to allow for ambiguous subject or predicates, and so for contradictions that are only apparent.


Types of top


The dreidel is associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. It has four sides: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (Shin), and is usually played with coins, chips, or gelt (chocolate coins). These letters also stand for the words Nes Gadol Haya Sham meaning "a great miracle happened there," or, without the nikkud (vowel marks),

  • נס גדול היה שם (Hebrew is read right to left)

Before beginning, each player starts with 10 or 15 coins, and then each player puts one in the pot. The dreidel stops and lands with one of the symbols facing up and the appropriate action is taken:

  • Nun - nischt - "nothing" - the next player spins
  • Gimel - gantz - "all" - the player takes the entire pot
  • Hey - halb - "half" - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
  • Shin - shtel - "put in" - the player puts one or two in the pot

The game may last until one person has won everything.

In Israel the ש (Shin) is replaced with the פ (Pe). The phrase used in Israel means "A great miracle happened here." The meaning on the Dreidel is "Pay" - peh. This form is only used inside Israel.

External links

  • Chanukah Dreidel ( on Judaica Guide.


A Perinola is a 6-sided top, very similar to the dreidel, that is used for a similar game in most Latin American countries. Perinola is also the name of a stick and ball game.

Related topics

es:Trompo fr:Toupie nl:Draaitol ja:独楽


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